Former Lowestoft shopkeeper from Thorpe St Andrew who was jailed for child sexual assaults admits offences involving another boy

A FORMER Lowestoft shopkeeper who was jailed for sexually assaulting five teenage boys will be back in court next month after he admitted abusing another boy.

Anthony Francis, who owned two shops in Lowestoft, was given a three-and-a half-year prison sentence last year after being convicted at Ipswich Crown Court of eight offences of indecent assault and two offences of sexual activity with a child. He had denied all the offences but was found guilty by a jury.

Francis, 53, of Yarmouth Road, Thorpe St Andrew, was due to go on trial at Ipswich Crown Court next month over sex offences relating to another boy but this will no longer be necessary after he entered guilty pleas to five offences of indecent assault on a male, one offence of indecency with a child and two other serious sexual offences.

The offences all took place between 1990-93 when the victim was aged 13 to 15.

Francis, who owned a shop in Maidstone Road, Lowestoft, between 1990-1995 before moving to premises in Norwich Road, Lowestoft, is due to be released from his current prison sentence on September 6. However, he will be sentenced for the latest offences on the previous day.

At his trial in February last year, the jury heard that Francis had sexually assaulted five teenagers aged between 13 and 16 over a 15-year period between 1992 and 2005.

The court was told that he acted like a 'latter- day Pied Piper', luring the five boys into his private accommodation at his premises or a basement office and then indecently touching them.

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Witnesses said that he had then given them money in an attempt to buy their silence.

In addition to jailing Francis, Judge David Goodin ordered him to sign on the sex offenders' register indefinitely.

After the trial, the mother of one of the victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said that the criminal investigation and trial had been a 'horrendous two years' for her son and family, and also for the other young men and their families.

She said her son had bravely told police about the abuse and his courage had led to other victims coming forward. 'It took a great deal of courage for him to make a disclosure and statement to the police, who were very understanding and helpful,' the mother said.

'It was a brave thing for him to do, but it soon became evident after his disclosure that there were others who had also put these awful incidents to the back of their minds and said nothing.'

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